OPINION: The E3 contradiction

You can read my appraisal of the big takeaways from last week’s E3 online next week or in today’s copy of MCV magazine, but here’s the short version. Takeaway’s the fitting word to use here.

No less than five times in formal interviews with VPs, studio heads and the like, they referred to the spectrum of games evolving into meal-like experiences. Some are snacks, some are lunch, others three-course meals. I guess MMOs are like the French Women Diet.

Maybe those execs were all just hungry. After all, you can spend so much time in E3 meetings that you don’t get to eat.

But the analogies have a point: the market is evolving, and games are fracturing into different sizes. So why was that message absent from the showfloor, and the press conferences?

As we pointed out last week, E3 2011 was all about the core gamer offering. And as I say in our review, the resultant impression was a bunch of unsurprising and often overly similar – if very, very good – games coming this year and next.

New ideas are sorely needed. Diversity isn’t exactly en vogue in a tougher economic climate, but it does make for good menus.


For all the love I showered on the sexy new tech of Vita and Wii U in MCV last week, Microsoft’s Kinect is showing real potential for an existing console that just keeps growing.

At E3, Microsoft really proved that the bold ‘Natal’ claims from 2009 were not just hot air, and is pushing Kinect deep into the Xbox experience. The device is central in a bid to make 360 the world’s (and Europe’s) No.1 games platform. It’s a singular vision which contrasts with the multi-faceted approach of Sony and Nintendo.

Personally, I don’t want to sit there barking ‘Xbox, Bing, X-Men’ to search for movies. But I do want to play things like this week’s universally-acclaimed Child of Eden, a core experience (from a third-party, no less) that proves the device’s capabilities. This is the real direction Xbox and Kinect can exploit further (as can Sony and Nintendo, of course): the actual beauty of games and the enjoyment they provide.

Plus, core games on Kinect could do something Wii didn’t quite manage, and that’s turning ‘non-gamers’ into real hardcore players. Dads could go from Kinect Sports to FIFA; their kids can migrate from Kinect Adventures to Fable… and then to the ‘real’ Fable.

And – much to Sony and Nintendo’s chagrin, I bet – it might do it without moving to a new games format

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